Being There

There is something to be said for being present at an historic, once-in-a-lifetime event.

Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune to be in attendance at two of them.

The All-Star Parade in Manhattan, leading up to the final All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, was pretty amazing. It may not have looked like much on TV, but to be standing – literally – less than ten feet away from the largest collection of Hall of Fame legends and current All Stars as they paraded down Avenue of the Americas…well, let’s just say you had to be there. I doubt most of us will ever get that close, nor will there ever be such a collection of players in the same place at the same time again.  

Later that same week, I unexpectedly found myself in possession of tickets to Billy Joel’s “Last Play At Shea” (the real final show, not the second-to-last concert that some ended up with tickets for). It was –  in a word – amazing.

Our seats were waaaay up in the right-field corner which, while pretty close to the stage set up in center field, left a little to be desired as far as sound quality and visuals. But  hey – we were in the same stadium, right?

The special guests – some, it seemed, more anticipated than Joel himself – lived up to the hype. One by one, they came out for their time in the spotlight… Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey… and, just when we assumed that was it… Paul McCartney himself.

After weeks of denying the rumors of a “Fab” appearance, there he stood in the flesh. It was as if the Beatles themselves had come back for an encore, some 43 years later. To those in the stands, they may as well have.  

I know Shea Stadium isn’t in the greatest condition these days, but I’m pretty certain it’s not meant to shake from its very foundation. It did during that song (which, by the way, was almost impossible to hear over the deafening roar from the crowd). 

Following Joel’s traditional encore of Piano Man, most in the crowd assumed the nearly three and a half hour show was finally drawing to a close. But then, Joel whispered something to a member of his stage crew, and out came McCartney once again. Ever the gentleman, Billy turned over his piano to Paul, and the audience swayed as one to the strains of Let It Be.

Yes, the seats could have been better. True, we missed some of the artists’ dialogue with the audience. But to see a list of rock icons close Shea Stadium in style, along with 65,000 fellow fans… Priceless.

There are some things you just don’t get from watching a video.

Seeing a Beatle perform live at Shea Stadium would be one of them.


{Published: July 30th, 2008}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment